George Burt and Raymond MacDonald are the leaders of the Burt MacDonald Quartet. The band is a jazz-based outlet for their compositions, their songwriting, their arrangements and their guests. Over the years they have collaborated with Lol Coxhill, Harry Beckett, Keith Tippett, Maggie Nicols, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Michael Zerang to name but a few. To date they have released 11 CDs ranging from the completely improvised duo CD Constant Weave to more composed material for larger groups on CDs such as Day for a Reason and Big Brothers. They specialise in combing strongly melodic composed material with no-holds-barred free improvisation. Their music can move seamlessly from breezy minimalism to propellant free jazz; from thickly textured soundscapes to lopsided tongue-in-cheek swing. Echoes of pop and folk forms infuse much of their work.
George and Raymond first came across each other in the Bill Wells component of a concert celebrating Brian Wilson’s 50th birthday. The tune was “Wind Chimes”, and in the mind of Bill this meant a dozen musicians distributed all over the club playing tiny fragments of the tune while Raymond improvised over the top.
George met Lol Coxhill at a duo gig with Pat Thomas as part of the Glasgow Jazz Festival, later released on CD as One Night in Glasgow. When asked to collaborate with George and Raymond, Lol took the cds and tapes offered, and said, “If I like them I’ll give you a call, and if I don’t you’ll never hear from me again.” They went on to record 5 CDs with him. Lol also performed regularly with the band and became more of an occasional band member than a guest. These gigs included a memorable night at Les Instants Chavires in Paris.
The band has also toured in England and in the US, and they brought Harry Becket to Scotland for a tour. They spent a week on the Isle of Mull at the wonderful An Tobar Arts Centre recording a new set of their own songs with Keith Tippett. Two CDs were released from these sessions - A Day for a Reason and BooHoo Fever. Following up on this fruitful relationship Keith Tippett was commissioned to write a new suite of songs for the band: this was premiered at the Glasgow Jazz Festival and then performed and recorded in Shetland. The CD of this recording should appear sometime in 2013.
Review of Hotel Dilettante
“This music combines elements of ambient, prog rock and free jazz, and it is as light as it is accessible and emotional. The music is relatively simple in its form, more rock-like, at times reminiscent of the Penguin Café Orchestra or even Laurie Anderson (especially on the second track "The Worthy Constituent"). There is an intimacy here, something naive and direct which is really compelling, like broad abstract strokes on a canvas, led by Burt's guitar, over which Raymond MacDonald draws his extremely beautiful and restrained tones and melodies. Nicola MacDonald's wordless singing on some tracks is like joyful girlish humming on a sunny spring day. In contrast to much of the violence on endless overblowing on many free jazz records, this one is gentle and a welcome variation. Yet it's creative, full of avant-garde try-outs and musical collages, so great work was done in the studio too. Highly recommended.”
All about Jazz
GEORGE BURT / RAYMOND MACDONALD
Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra and Gino Robair
Stepping Between the Shadows
Improcherto | Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra